New York, New York
June 7, 2021
Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you, Special Representative Fall, for your briefing today and for your tireless efforts across the region during a tumultuous time. Today, I’d like to talk about the situations in Chad, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, and Burundi.
First, the United States would like to express its gratitude to the AU Peace and Security Council for its work in Chad as the country finds a way forward following the death of President Deby. We join the African Union and our international partners in calling for a peaceful, timely, and civilian-led transition of power to a democratically elected government before October 2022. The Chadian people deserve an inclusive national dialogue, one where everyone comes together to decide the future of their country. Specifically, this means laying out a concrete plan and a timeline for elections, and drafting a new national constitution. And it means standing up strong institutions, like a representative National Assembly, an independent judicial system, and a reformed National Independent Electoral Commission. For Chad, democracy is finally within reach. We urge the people of Chad to seize this moment.
Second, the United States continues to be concerned about the situation in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon. We condemn everyone contributing to the violence, including both security forces and armed separatists. And we call on the government and armed groups to end the violence and participate in dialogue without pre-conditions. SRSG Fall, thank you again for continuing to engage with key actors, both in Cameroon and abroad, as you did in March of this year. Everyone has a role to play in supporting dialogue and peace to end the senseless killings and violence.
The United States fully supports UNOCA’s role in promoting inclusive political dialogue in Cameroon. And we also support the Swiss-led and UN-supported mediation of the Anglophone crisis. We are concerned, however, about the viability of the Government of Cameroon’s Presidential Plan for Reconstruction and Development for the Northwest and Southwest Regions, which is being supported by UNDP. Unfortunately, the current security environment on the ground is not conducive to implementing that kind of initiative.
Looking outside Cameroon’s borders, we believe the Cameroonian diaspora has a powerful tool at their disposal: their voices. So, we ask them, and everyone with influence in the region: use your voices to promote peace and meaningful change, rather than to promote retaliatory violence that will only lead to more suffering. It’s time to get children back to school safely. It’s time to support humanitarian workers. And it’s time to end the fighting.
We also remain concerned about the ongoing situation in the Central African Republic. We welcome the joint communique. We encourage UNOCA to use its good offices to support a meaningful dialogue that is fully inclusive and addresses the need to improve governance. UNOCA has an important role to play in encouraging constructive engagement by neighboring countries to reduce the violence and secure the shared borders. We are outraged by reports that Russian instructors led military offensives characterized by confrontations with UN peacekeepers, threats against UN personnel, violations of international humanitarian law, extensive sexual violence, and widespread looting, including of humanitarian organizations. These violations must stop. They must stop now. We urge all security actors to coordinate their operations with MINUSCA and ensure their activities do not harm civilians. In fact, any security actors must provide justification for how their so-called assistance supports security sector reform.
Fourth and finally, Mr. President, some good news: The United States welcomes progress in Burundi – as was mentioned earlier. Burundi has improved diplomatic and economic relationships with its neighbors and returned to international fora. We recognize initial improvements in respect for media freedoms and encourage continued progress on human rights, which we believe would result in significant economic and political benefits for the people of Burundi. The United States celebrates the efforts of the Government of Burundi, the UN, the AU, and many regional and international actors in supporting these changes. And we encourage Burundi to keep making forward progress toward a lasting peace.
Thank you, Mr. President.